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Emile Zola - William Dean Howells

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by William Dean Howells

In these times of electrical movement, the sort of construction
in the moral world for which ages were once needed, takes place
almost simultaneously with the event to be adjusted in history,
and as true a perspective forms itself as any in the past.  A few
weeks after the death of a poet of such great epical imagination,
such great ethical force, as Emile Zola, we may see him as
clearly and judge him as fairly as posterity alone was formerly
supposed able to see and to judge the heroes that antedated it. 
The present is always holding in solution the elements of the
future and the past, in fact; and whilst Zola still lived, in the
moments of his highest activity, the love and hate, the
intelligence and ignorance, of his motives and his work were as
evident, and were as accurately the measure of progressive and
retrogressive criticism, as they will be hereafter in any of the
literary periods to come.  There will never be criticism to
appreciate him more justly, to depreciate him more unjustly, than
that of his immediate contemporaries.  There will never be a day
when criticism will be of one mind about him, when he will no
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